Filibustering Alito: The Clarence Thomas Factor:
A little recent history lesson here: So back in 1991, at the end of the crazed finger-jabbin' circus that was the hearing on Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the vote was a 7-7 tie, with the odious Dennis DeConcini breaking ranks with his party to ensure that the Thomas nomination didn't go down the toilet like so many pubic hairs flicked off so many Coke cans.
The committee's chair, Joseph Biden, who voted against Thomas, all but offered to blow every black man in America in his efforts to make sure that Thomas got a vote in the full Senate, so fearful were many Democrats over some phantom backlash by African Americans that the Republicans promised to whip up. The committee could have voted not to send the nomination to the floor, but the Democrats, when they were in the goddamn majority, didn't have the stones for the fight, with all but one voting to send the nomination to the full Senate despite the fact that no Supreme Court nominee had ever gone to a full vote without the committee's recommendation. And let's remember, fondly, that the questions his opponents had weren't only about Thomas's manic desire to fuck Anita Hill; they were concerned about his qualifications and his very right wing politics.
As for the possibility of a filibuster, despite George Mitchell and others saying it was still in play, well, other Democrats put the kibbosh on that faster than Clarence Thomas could rent a Long Dong Silver porn film. Patrick Leahy declared that he was "totally opposed to a filibuster," that "we should vote for or against" Thomas. Biden was equally firm that a filibuster would not happen, saying that he had "no intention of supporting a filibuster."
Republican Orrin Hatch, who is not above using race any chance he can (hell, he's actually not above worm shit at the bottom of a grave), taunted Democrats with the idea that they might filibuster a black nominee; Hatch, who has been a seething destructive force and a favored minion of Satan for decades, reminded Senators that the filibuster had been used by civil rights opponents back in the bad ol' days. Said Hatch, "Wouldn't that be just the greatest irony of all? Can you imagine liberals talking about filibustering the second black nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States of America? Shame! I can hardly wait if that's the choice that they make."
And, of course, they didn't make it. Sure, sure, Democrats knew that Thomas wasn't qualified, that his nomination was a cynical ploy, a game of racial chicken started by George Bush I. Sure, sure, Democrats called the 52 to 48 vote in favor of Thomas a "statement" or some such shit, but, at the end of the day, Clarence Thomas took Thurgood Marshall's seat on the Supreme Court.
So here's the question that the Rude Pundit has for Senators Daniel Akaka, Max Baucus, Joe Biden, Robert Byrd, Kent Conrad, Tom Harkin, Jim Jeffords, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Frank Lautenberg, Patrick Leahy, Carl Levin, Joe Lieberman, Barbara Mikulski, Harry Reid, Jay Rockefeller, and Paul Sarbanes, who were there then and are there now: Do you wish you had filibustered Clarence Thomas now? Do you wish you had done everything you could even against the slim majority that supported Thomas?
In 2004, Harry Reid said this about Clarence Thomas on Meet the Press: "I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court...I think that his opinions are poorly written. I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice." Is there something you could have done back, say, in 1991 that might have prevented an unqualified ideologue from being on the Supreme Court? Looking back, would you have done something differently?
'Cause, see, we know now to be true what a whole fuckin' lot of us were sayin' back in 1991: Clarence Thomas supports rolling back rights and expanding the power of the Presidency, as well as in a detrimental, extreme Federalism (except, you know, in Bush v. Gore) and a pro-corporate, fuck-the-citizens approach to jurisprudence, easily the most conservative member of the Court, the only man who could make Antonin Scalia look like a wild-eyed Bohemian.
See, the debate on Samuel Alito is one of those "If I had known then what I know now" moments. It's one of those "If you went back in time and had a chance to shoot Hitler, would you do it?" moments. (No, the Rude Pundit's not comparing Alito to Hitler - that'd be Bush. And, no, he's not advocating shooting Alito - instead, use a tranq gun on Karl Rove.)
There's many, many reasons to filibuster Alito, ideologically and politically. At the end of the day, sweet Senators, look at Clarence Thomas - look at his decisions, his dissents, his deep desire to eviscerate individual rights and freedoms like they're pig carcasses in the slaughterhouse. Ask yourself if, at the end of another decade and a half, you wanna look back and wonder if you did everything you could, even if you failed, to prevent another extremist from getting on the court. Ask yourself what kind of America would you be looking from. Act like that's what's at stake.
Correction: An earlier version of this post listed Mark Pryor in the list of Senators who were sitting in that august body back in 1991. However, the Rude Pundit had confused Mark with his daddy, David Pryor, who served in the Senate until 1997. Tip of the rude hat to reader Lane.
Bloggery: Blogger's goin' down fer a bit at 7 p.m. EST. S'posed to be back at around 7:15. Enjoy the emptiness and silence.